Brace up or bow out warning for lawyers in technology-enhanced future
A study predicts a bleak future saying that by 2030 everyone will have a free lawyer at their disposal
The Law Society of England and Wales has said that it's time for city lawyers to brace up or be ready to bow out by predicting a tough time for them in the technology-enhanced future.
In a report, the society has envisaged the future and found it to be potentially rather bleak and has advised the City lawyers to take performance-enhancing measures to remain competitive before becoming redundant.
The report has predicted a future in which consumer services such as property and private client law, will be delivered by large retail legal service providers and that the commercial law firms will see large swathes of routine legal advice outsourced, leaving an elite cadre of City and in-house lawyers to advice in person.
"The cost pressures on the legal sector to adopt AI and streamline legal functions will lead to more work types being commoditized, automated and self-service in the near term," the report has predicted, and has warned that only the high value, complex or newest areas of law will need human input. Humans may also be needed in relationship management with larger clients.
The Future Worlds 2050 project was set up to 'enable raw, frank and honest discussions around what clients will need in the future. Its first report titled Images of the Future Worlds Facing the Legal Profession 2020-2030 comes with a few forewarnings.
The assessments of the workforce suggest a 20 per cent decline by 2050, while the more catastrophic modelling envisages savage job cuts leading to a 50 per cent reduction in the legal workforce.
"The legal profession is at a pivotal moment, as is the world in which we live. There are a plethora of forces shifting our collective experience and the business environment. If we've learnt anything from 2020, it's that the future can still catch you unawares," Law Society president Stephanie Boyce said.
The report has predicted an extensive change to law firm partnerships by 2030 and predicted an extensive deskilling of the legal profession with artificial intelligence (AI) taking over. As a result, the world will also witness a dramatic change in compensation resulting in by 2030, everyone will have a "free lawyer" at their disposal.
According to Boyce, the new forms of green energy and climate change action could create opportunities for lawyers and their insurer clients, as they seek to find innovative solutions to the risks posed by extreme weather events. Legal input and advice will also be needed around green funding – investors financing environmentally friendly companies – and there is likely to be a rise in climate litigation against corporations or governments.
"This project is a unique opportunity to look ahead at the challenges and opportunities that may face us in the next decade. Science fiction is already becoming a reality, so what can we look forward to in 10 years' time? We intend to illuminate the path ahead for the profession, so the future maybe a little less uncertain," Boyce said, sounding that all may not be lost if proactive actions are taken.